Reflections of a First-Time Mother

My Turn: Reflections of a First-Time Mother

by Tricia Wellington for  


The original “little turnip” turned two a couple of months ago, and I'm still getting used to being referred to as a mom. I love doing mommy things: packing the little lunches, reviewing the curriculum, and teaching the art of tricycle-riding.

The day my girl was due, I told my mother she needn't accompany me, took the train to my final pre-natal appointment, having had no indication that anything was going to happen as expected. I felt so strong, energetic and able that I walked—practically skipped—from the subway station to my doctor’s office, made an appointment to be induced at the end of the week, planned to drive myself to the hospital and drive home with a new baby.

When I got home, the same mysterious burst of energy enabled me to clean my closets, vacuum my apartment, and make terrific progress on the unpacking and removal of boxes from a recent move to Boston.

Mother's Helper

In the wee hours of the next morning, my water broke. I've always thought that was supposed to be such a major event, but at the moment I was in such discomfort, I hardly noticed it. Mom went to get my neighbor, and somehow they got me into the car. What was supposed to be a forty-five-minute ride seemed to last forever. After we ran into some construction, and got lost trying to follow a detour, I began to consider the alarming possibility that my baby could be born on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Finally, we pulled up at the hospital’s emergency entrance, and somehow I was pried from the rear seat of the car. There was no time for an epidural, so I listened patiently while I as instructed to get on the table, decided I was physically unable to comply, and laid down on the floor instead. Someone in the delivery room suggested that if I could hold off for another four hours, my doctor would be along. I wasn't amused. Then, at 5:09 a.m, it was over.

Get the little one accustomed to using a mouse

Two days after that, I was sprinting back and forth between my room and the hospital’s Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, staring in amazement at the tiny bundle with the perfect skin and the jet-black curls. She didn't open her eyes very often in those first few days, but when she did, I was captivated by their incredible brightness—enough to forget how tired I was; enough to forget how terrified I was at the prospect of heading up our little family.

Now, my daughter is learning to string together words, and we’re enjoying each other’s company and learning quite a bit. The child development stages are beginning to get really exciting. This past winter we were forced to spend a lot of time indoors, watching the snow pile up against the windows. A frequent lesson for the little one was: Don't play with the snow-shovel. For me, it was: If you don't like getting smacked in the forehead with a shovel handle, don't leave it lying around.

At the ripe old age of thirty-seven, I’ve succeeded in gaining my mom’s hearty approval. I’m glad she thinks I’m a wonderful mother, but a little ashamed that hearing the words has meant so much. No matter. I’ve resolved that my daughter will not spend thirty-seven years of her life waiting to hear those words from me.

Here's a good way for the fitness-minded mother to help the little one get into an exercise mindset

I will make sure Little One knows she’s fabulous all the time, even when I’m disappointed in her choices. I will avoid linking my approval of her with her physical appearance, for this is a society in which women endanger their health in pursuit of an unattainable body image—one in which clear, logical thinking and excellent judgment get passed over in the rush to pay homage to the airbrushed face.

I will be loudly enthusiastic when my girl ties her own shoes, distinguishes her colors, and attempts speech. She’s already displaying the signs of craving mommy's approval—diligently working at the closures on her coat, patiently working at putting on her boots and lacing up her shoes, and struggling to spear her green beans with an adult-sized fork. After each accomplished task, she’ll look at me expectantly, waiting for my part, which is the imitation of a hockey-game audience going wild over a goal scored.

No matter how many times I try to gently explain to her that some things are designed so that Mother has to help, she’s determined to figure out everything, and doing it by herself means the world. She sobs when I intervene with the intention of helping, so I make a point of offering assistance before just jumping in. If I can wait long enough, she’ll manage, and will beam with pride.

Score! And the crowd goes wild! So thanks, Mother, for reminding me of what I was trying to tell my daughter.

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